Kathy Bailey

Head of School, Admissions, and Human Resources

Kathy Bailey has a BA in both Elementary Education and Spanish from Houghton College and graduated summa cum laude from Virginia Commonwealth University where she earned a MEd in Curriculum and Instruction. Mrs. Bailey came to Clapham School in 2013 with over twenty years of teaching and school administration experience. Kathy and her husband have four grown children and one grandson. Kathy enjoys handwork, taking photos, traveling, and spending time with her family. Mrs. Bailey and her husband attend Bethel OPC in Wheaton.

Jason Barney

Academic Dean

Jason Barney earned his BA in Ancient Languages and English Literature from Wheaton College. In 2009 Jason joined the faculty of Clapham School and began building the Latin program and Middle School. In 2012 Jason was awarded the Henry Salvatori Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Hillsdale College. In May 2014 Jason completed his MA in Biblical Exegesis at Wheaton College, where he received The Tenney Award in New Testament Studies. From 2015-2016 Jason taught Upper School Latin at The Geneva School of Orlando, while serving on the Clapham School Board of Directors. In his free time he is a New Testament Researcher with the Biblical Research Group, and he enjoys strategy games, long discussions, and good books.


Christine Escareño

Lower School Principal

Christine Escareño graduated summa cum laude from Wheaton College with a BA in Elementary Education and from National Louis University with an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction. Christine served as a missionary in Mexico for ten years. Upon returning to the United States, Christine taught Elementary School in CUSD 200. Christine enjoys camping, baking, and spending time with her family. Christine, her husband and their four children attend All Souls Anglican Church. Mrs. Escareño has worked at Clapham School since 2010.

Kolby Atchison

Secondary School Principal

Kolby Atchison holds a BA in Philosophy from Biola University and an MA in Systematic Theology from Wheaton College Graduate School. While at Biola, Kolby studied great books in the Torrey Honors Institute and served as a chapter director for National School Project. His senior year he received the Outstanding Senior Thesis Presentation award for his paper on natural law ethics. In 2013, Kolby joined the faculty of Clapham School as Class Seven teacher and Athletic Director. In his free time Kolby enjoys traveling nationally and abroad, reading and writing about theology and education, serving in his local church, and spending time with his wife. He and his wife attend College Church.

Sara Smith

Fine Arts Director, Music Teacher, and Choir Director

Sara Masterson Smith completed her Bachelors in Music Education from the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. She attended Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan during high school and attended Westminster Choir College where she studied classical music, vocal pedagogy and art. Sara is a professional singer/songwriter and recording artist who has released several albums of original music and who has toured nationally. When not leading worship or writing music together with her husband, Sara enjoys traveling, exploring downtown Chicago and hiking with her husband and young son. The Smiths attend Harvest Bible Chapel in Naperville. Mrs. Smith joined Clapham School faculty in 2008.


Emily Arnold

Office Assistant, Secondary School French

Emily Arnold received her BA from Wheaton College in Christian Education. When not working, she enjoys translating, creating crating projects and finding new uses for old things. Emily also works part-time as the Testing Coordinator for the Foreign Languages Department at Wheaton College. Since she grew up in France, where her parents serve as missionaries, Emily speaks fluent French and loves languages. She attends Mount Prospect Bible Church. Mrs. Arnold joined the Clapham School faculty in 2015.

Ashley Barney


Ashley Barney holds a Master of Music degree from DePaul University and a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. While at Wheaton College, Ashley was chosen as the vocal soloist for her class’ Baccalaureate Service on the basis of academic accomplishment and spiritual character. Her professional performances have included singing as the soprano soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mozart’s Requiem, and Gabriel and Eve in Haydn’s The Creation; she has taught private voice lessons and group voice classes for several years. Ashley is the wife of Jason Barney and they enjoy serving and worshipping together at College Church. In her free time, she writes poems and composes music that she shares on her website,, which is an artistic expression of her faith in Jesus Christ through confessional writing, as she wrestles with how to live the Christian life.

Steve Battaglia

Class Three and Four Aid and Lower School Physical Education

Steven Battaglia graduated from Grove City College with a BA in History and a Biblical Studies minor.  While a student at Grove City College, Steven led a campus ministry and counseled at Summer’s Best Two Weeks.  After graduation, Steven spent time teaching at a home co-op.  Outside of school, Steven is passionate about spending time with his wife and baby boy, reading good books, playing basketball, and fishing.  Steven and his family attend The Federated Church of Sandwich. Mr. Battaglia joined the Clapham School Faculty in 2016.

Andrew Bliss

Secondary School Science, Upper School Geometry

Andrew Bliss graduated from Wheaton in 2014 with a BS in Chemistry, a Spanish minor, and a pre-med certificate. While a student at Wheaton College, Andrew volunteered for, and coordinated, a children’s hospital visitation ministry and was a leader of small groups on campus. Andrew was also a teacher’s assistant for biochemistry and did computational chemistry research for two years. Andrew enjoys reading, camping, playing chess, and painting. Andrew and his wife attend Hope Fellowship. Mr. Bliss joined the Clapham School faculty in 2015.

Stephanie Bliss

Class Four, Upper School Algebra 2

Stephanie Bliss graduated from a classical school in Florida before attending Wheaton College where she graduated in 2014 with a BS in Mathematics. During college, Stephanie tutored students in math, led a campus small group, counseled at Honeyrock, and worked at Clapham School as a classroom aid and office assistant. Stephanie enjoys reading, crafts, spending time in nature, and coaching volleyball. Stephanie and her husband attend Hope Fellowship. Mrs. Bliss joined the school faculty in 2015.

Hannah Bramsen

Upper School Humanities Teacher, Theatre Director

Hannah Bramsen graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English literature and Theatre Arts from Gordon College. While at Gordon she had the privilege of participating in a great books honors program called the Jerusalem and Athens forum, as well as the opportunity to study at Oxford University in England and Jerusalem College in Israel. After graduating, she worked as a theatre-teaching artist for Chicago public schools. She continues to stage manage for various Chicago theatre companies. Hannah and her husband enjoy kayaking, traveling and cross-country skiing. They attend All Souls Anglican Church. Mrs. Bramsen joined the Clapham School faculty in 2012.

Ashlyn Duff

Explorers Two (Kindergarten), and After-Care Director

Ashlyn Duff completed her BA dual-degree in Elementary Education and Bible from Moody Bible Institute. At Moody she received specific training in Christian education and discipleship and earned an ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) teaching certification. Ashlyn enjoys reading, learning about health and nutrition, and riding horses. Ashlyn and her husband attend College Church. Mrs. Duff joined the Clapham School faculty in 2015.

Jenny Johnson

Class Two

Jenny Johnson graduated cum laude from Miami University (Ohio) with a BS in English Education. As a graduate assistant at Xavier University in Cincinnati, she earned her MBA, helped manage the Xavier Entrepreneurial Center, and received a capstone award in strategic thinking. Jenny has worked extensively in communication, reading specialization, and editing. She has enjoyed serving as a pastor’s wife for 13 years and teaching students of all ages. She and her family are members of College Church. When unable to drink her favorite cup of Joe at the Art Institute, she can often be found behind the lens of a camera, designing lighting for plays, or sharing a laugh with family and friends. Mrs. Johnson joined the Clapham School Faculty in 2014.

Brian Kelly

Class Eight, Middle School Latin

Brian Kelly completed his BA in Biblical Studies and Ancient Language Studies at Wheaton College. While at Wheaton College, he focused on Biblical Greek, but also studied French and philosophy. Brian had the opportunity to work with the Green Scholars Initiative where he and a team published an ancient papyrus fragment of Exodus. Outside of school, Brian enjoys golf, ice hockey, rowing, and visiting the Jersey Shore. Brian and his wife attend Church of the Resurrection. Mr. Kelly joined the Clapham School faculty in 2013.

Daniel King

Class Six

Daniel King earned his MA in the history of Christianity from Wheaton College, focusing his studies on nineteenth-century evangelicalism in particular. He completed his BA in history at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, graduating summa cum laude and completing a thesis on the theologian and college president H. Orton Wiley (1874-1961) and his philosophy of Christian liberal arts education. Prior to coming to Clapham School, Daniel served as a Graduate Resident Adviser at Wheaton College and worked as a catalog assistant at the Marion E. Wade Center, which collects archival material on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and several other British writers. Here he had the wonderful opportunity to catalog many of the books in C.S. Lewis’s personal library. He and his wife Victoria share passions for dystopian novels, Scrabble, and crossword puzzles. Having grown up in the deserts of Arizona, they are still enchanted by the magical cadence that Midwesterners call “the four seasons.” They are members of Hope Fellowship in Lombard. Mr. King joined the Clapham School faculty in 2016.


Victoria King

Class One

Victoria King completed her BA in Psychology with a child development emphasis at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. Her curiosity for education was sparked by an internship with a middle school counselor. After graduating, she taught preschool, which continued to cultivate her love for children and learning. Victoria enjoys baking, dystopian novels, Scrabble, and playing music. She and her husband attend Hope Fellowship. Mrs. King joined the Clapham School faculty in 2015.

Yara Kombwa

Spanish, Explorers Aide

Yara Kombwa completed her BA in Psychology at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. During school she volunteered as a tutor in a variety of after school programs for elementary school and high school students. After graduation she got trained as a Spanish/English medical interpreter with Metaphrasis. She currently volunteers as an interpreter at Mission Possible, a non-profit Christian organization that offers medical services to the uninsured. She is currently pursuing classes to become a certified biblical counselor. She enjoys hiking, baking, and listening to the radio. Yara and her husband attend Grace Church of DuPage. She joined the Clapham School faculty in 2016.

Elise Poppe

Class Five

Elise attended Moody Bible Institute and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education for Christian Schools and a B.S. in Bible. She worked at Clapham School beginning in 2009 as an aide to Explorers One and Class One and then taught Class Four from 2010-2015. Feeling the pull of adventure, she moved to Colorado to teach fourth grade at Ambleside Colorado. She found adventure in an unexpected form when God called her to marriage and back to the Chicago area. She continues to enjoy learning about the Charlotte Mason approach to education and has done so in various training opportunities with Ambleside Schools International. She is a lifelong learner who can often be found reading, cooking, and watching the Denver Broncos.

Laura Talcott


Laura Talcott graduated with a BA in art and English with a minor in German from Hillsdale College in Michigan. During her final semester at Hillsdale, she served as a student art teacher at Hillsdale Preparatory School for kindergarten through eighth grade. She also earned a certificate in scientific botanical illustration from the Morton Arboretum. Since graduation, Laura has worked as a book editor for Crossway. She also teaches arts and handcrafts through 4-H and enjoys gardening, traveling, and canoeing. Laura attends Glen Arbor Community Church. Miss Talcott joined the Clapham School faculty in 2015.[/wolf_col_9]

Joleen Steel

Explorers One

Mrs. Steel holds a BA in Elementary Education with a specialization in Early Childhood. Mrs. Steel has taught kindergarten, Second grade and Preschool. She is the former owner and lead teacher of New Song Music Studios. Mrs. Steel is the author of Music for Little Learners as well as several children’s books. In her spare time she speaks at homeschool events and women’s retreats about raising disciples who disciple others. Mrs. Steel is married to Pastor David Steel, together they have three boys and a cute dog named Molly.

Sally Woodhouse

Class Three

Sally Woodhouse earned a BS in Elementary Education from Iowa State University. After college she worked as a nanny on the east coast for a year before teaching fourth grade at Westminster Christian School. For the past decade plus, Sally has been home educating her children using a classical, Charlotte Mason approach. Spending time with her family, decorating, reinventing furniture and reading are among Sally’s passions. Sally and her family attend New Covenant Bible Church. Mrs. Woodhouse joined the Clapham School Faculty in 2015.

Margaret Worley

Class Seven

Maggie Worley earned her BA in American Studies from Hillsdale College. While at Hillsdale, she was a member of The George Washington Fellowship Program, a Constitutional studies program designed to teach students to understand statesmanship and American political culture today. As vice president of the American Studies Honorary and treasurer of the Lyceum, Mrs. Worley helped promote extracurricular academic discussions on campus. During her senior year at Hillsdale, she observed and taught classes at Hillsdale Academy, a classical school connected with the College. Maggie also spent several summers working as a camp counselor at the Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, IL. She enjoys playing Irish and Bluegrass fiddle. Maggie attends Grace Church of DuPage. Mrs. Worley joined the Clapham School faculty in 2013.

Board of Directors

Jim Pursley

Board President
Jim Pursley has spent much of his career on the leading edge of innovation in healthcare and currently leads sales for a healthcare startup. Prior to that he spent his career at GE, most recently working on a joint venture between GE & Intel. He holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a BS from Pennsylvania State University. As a parent of three Clapham children, he is passionate about equipping the next generation of leaders to engage the culture for significant impact.

Doug Wright

Board Treasurer
Doug Wright has an extensive career in the field of sales and marketing in the business arena, serving in leadership roles at companies as diverse as Proctor & Gamble and Bank of America. He earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Washington State University, and is currently working toward completion of his Masters in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary. Doug has a passion for teaching and young people, which find their outlet in his church and other settings by teaching youth and adults in the topics of worldview, apologetics and systematic theology. He and his wife live southwest of Chicago.

Mindy Rynbrandt

Board Secretary
Mindy and her family have been part of Clapham School from the start, as one of the founding families. Mindy earned her BA in Communications and an MA in Biblical Theology from Wheaton College. She has worked in academic administration at both Wheaton College and the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Most recently, she spent three years living in the Netherlands with her family and, while there, was a practitioner of the Classical-Charlotte Mason approach as a home educator. Mindy and her husband currently live in Wheaton with their four children and attend College Church.

John Byars

John is a partner in the law firm Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP. He received his JD from the University of Chicago Law School. He also earned an MA in economics and a BS in physics from Clemson University. John and his wife have four children; the three oldest are enrolled at Clapham.

Chris Stiernagle

Chris is the Global Workforce Planning Leader at GE Capital. He received his MBA in Strategy from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business. Previously he was a Senior Consultant at Towers Watson for over 9 years.